At the throttle

Train Blog

March 13, 2023

OpsLog – TY&E – 3/12/2023

ne of my little model railroad observation is that if you host a session with ten operators and ten things go wrong, each operator might have one problem and see it as successful, but the host sees all ten (and commits suicide afterwards). Well, today I rather disproved that witticism. I was in the cab of my usual run, the Sand & Lumber job, a four-movement effort that gets empty flats and loaded hoppers down to Staffordtown, where they get switched out for empty hoppers and full flats. I’ve always enjoyed this job. Interestingly, there is a reefer run I’m […]
March 10, 2023

On Sheet – Annunciator

read this little passage a while ago. It came from a little anecdote in a book on Southern Pacific depots in the 1950s. …I was busy with these customers when the annunciator sounded, indicating a westbound train was approaching… I’d never heard of such a thing. It seems that, in the fifties, there was some sort of relay switch to automatically ring a station when a train was inbound. Interesting. I filed it away and didn’t give it too much thought. Then we went into that piece from two weeks ago where I admitted my layout was more CTC than […]
March 9, 2023

OpsLog – LM&O – 3/8/2023

t was an interesting session at the club tonight. Since my goatee glue isn’t dry yet and excessive talking might make it fall into my lap (dire consistences abound), I turned the dispatcher job over to young Jason (I still worked the computer display and reviewed all outbound warrants for correctness and homicidal omissions).  But he did pretty good – once I get him checked out on the panel, I’ll cup him like a little bird and let him fly, fly, fly… …and I can imagine the other members loading birdshot. But overall, Jason did fine. We did have a […]
March 3, 2023

On Sheet – Time and Time again!

ince this is a blog about model train operations, I’m going to talk about time (since railroads and time, historically and modeled, are intertwined). Railroads live and die on the clock. Railroad operations are why we have standardized time zones today. You can’t run massive equipment in a delicately-balanced orchestration of time and place if every town consults its rusty clock tower for the local time. It needs to be standardized. Now, I’ve blogged about time before, HERE. This was an answer for those people who think that clocks equal stress and stress is no fun. If you can run […]
February 27, 2023

OpsLog – WAZU – 02/26/2023

n Amtrak train drifts up to a weatherstained industrial structures. Down its flanks, the doors bang open. For a moment, silence. Then, the passengers of ill-fated Train 22 drift out onto the broken concrete loading dock outside the shuttered factory. They cannot find their conductor. All the attendants have vanished. The engine idles, driverless and abandoned. There are no answers. As night falls, various groups of passengers drift off, seeking help and civilization. Some are picked off by drug-addicted homeless grungers. Others are eaten by mooses. Carnivorous deer pick off a few. One surprised passenger is killed by Big Foot. […]
February 24, 2023

On Sheet – Tuscarora Realization!

ddest thing. We’ve been running my diminutive Tuscarora Branch Line for two an a half years. Now, this tiny layout runs under Time Table & Train Orders (a method where trains follow their timetables but modify their efforts based on train orders from the dispatcher). Now, I’m not going to say that we’re perfect in our execution of the method – selective compression and all that. But it seemed to work and everyone likes the sessions. Orders got passed. It felt “railroady”. So, here’s the actual track schematic on the west side of the railroad. Westly is the coal mine (and while […]
February 23, 2023

OpsLog – LM&O – 2/22/2023

teve Hooper is going to hate reading this, but tonight we ran every train (freights, passengers, and even some units trains and extras) and we ran it pretty much on time. Sorry, Steve. When I took the hot seat tonight, I felt a lot of pressure to get this session down right. After all, the last one was a shambles (sorry again, Steve). We had to show that the entire thing could come together and run like a true railroad. This was doubly important because we were using our new freight flows from Nazareth. Yeah, so, no pressure but it’s […]
February 20, 2023

OpsLog – TY&E – 02/19/2023

ifficult day on the TY&E. Our host JW was in it up to his red ears, even up to his horns. Look, I know that hosting can be difficult. I’ve even had terrible sessions on Tuscarora. On my Cuesta, I used to dread sessions (and truthfully, it might be why I’m slow to return it to service). Hosting a session can really run a person ragged. The only thing I know is that if ten guys run on your layout and each has a minor problem, they’ve had a fun time with very little in the way of issues. But […]
February 17, 2023

On Sheet – Good as Gold

n our last post, we discussed (well, I presented and you read) about how important it was to be a good guest. You’ll remember it in Duties of the Guest. A cynical view might be – why? Why bother making someone else’s layout a success? Isn’t the point of this to just have fun, and if it’s going to be like a monastery on a rainy Saturday, why bother? Well, it comes down to this – do you like running trains? Do you like going to different layouts? If the answer is YES, then that’s the reason you go above […]
February 16, 2023

OpsLog – CSX Taft – 2/16/2023

ent over this morning for the second running of CSX – Taft, a neat little layout that explores potentials for fun without throwing away hundreds of square feet. And today, we ran with a number of new additions (Chris and I had talked this over and the fact that he took me seriously made me blink). Anyway, some new – neat things, first, a magnetic plate where you can keep track of your laps (when running mainline trains). And each lap is represented in a town roughly in that location (between Miami and Jacksonville). And second, random event cards! My […]